Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Lockouts, Legislation and Lawbreaking

We've all been seeing what's transpiring on Capitol Hill this week, and while I can see the obvious advantages of poker regulation in the LONG term, I'm mystified by the events taking place that will effect the online poker landscape in the short term.

From a personal standpoint, let's face it - a 15 month lockout for US players is a major buzzkill. Mind you, I don't play for a living, so I can't even imagine what daily grinders must be dreading (a real job, perhaps?). Granted, standing alone this bill is a longshot but tacked on to the tax legislation, this thing might just have a 1 in 3 chance of being tacked on, Safe Port Act-style.

I think the pertinent question is this...US-friendly sites have flaunted the law once already - since they are well aware that they are going to the back of the line in lieu of Harrah's, Mohegan, Foxwoods and every other brick and mortar that might join the ring, do we really think sites like FT and PS will really honor the law like they did in Washington state? If the UIGEA laws aren't enforceable, will these be worth ignoring?

I pose lots of questions without a clear answer, of course. The blogerati have their opinions spread all over my Google Reader, so all I can do is speculate and offer my own viewpoint. I'm not a 'casual' player - I take my game quite seriously - and put in a lot of volume on these sites that may go away in a month, two months. Aside from all the licensing, regulating and taxing, again the question remains - will the US friendly sites flee Party Poker style, hoping that by abiding US law they will profit in the long run,or will they stick around and take their chances, leaving us to play in an environment that, in reality, won't feel much different than when the UIGEA was enacted?

Like a brazened gold speculator, Harrah's has positioned themselves perfectly by acquiring the technology and putting up for free. Surely 'Harrah' Reid and his constituency were gladhanding in anticipation of something like this - but besides Harrah's, who still has brand awareness? PokerStars has two successful Tv shows running - Full Tilt patches abound on Poker After Dark - and American players will still swarm those free sites. Which poses an interesting scenario...

IF this bill passes (a big if), how will the offshore sites implement their free portals? Will we see more freerolls into big events? It would seem a certainty- otherwise attendance to WSOP, WPT, NAPT and EPT events will surely tumble, and those venues will suffer a big economic hit - does Senator Reid realize what THAT might do to his state's economy in 2011?

If the bill DOESN'T pass...will the Republican congress commence the UIGEA witch-hunt? Will we all be in bigger trouble? Will I be shackled and bound for multi-tabling 27-man SNGS? If that's the case, I guess I'll wait the 15 months.

To be continued...

Sunday, December 5, 2010

WSOP-C trip

Hello to all as I travel back to New York City via WiFi to update you on the happenings of the WSOP Circuit event at Harrah's trip, hosted by myself and Jordan.

Before I even go into my episode, I debate whether to spring the conclusion on you or let it unfold in its entirety. I am opting for the latter....

I lollygag around a little bit on Friday before hopping on a 4:30 bus to Harrah's. Jordan would not be far behind on a 6pm train. Things got a little dicey on my bus, as halfway to AC a fight ensued between two passengers, and when one of them shouted "Don't make me stick you!" the bus driver immediately pulled over, called the cops(who arrived within 5 minutes) and took the men off, and we continued south. I know, crazy, right?

I arrive at Caesar's and decide to walk to the Trop in the brisk night air to meet Jordan. He arrives a bit later and we proceed to the room. After a quick trip to Harrah's to register for the event we decide it is necessary to drink free alcohol and dust off some cash playing Limit Hold 'Em. Both of us predictably fared rather poorly after a 4 hour session and several liquor+Diet Coke combinations. All I can really remember is that I beat J at showdown with a straght and that he owned a few people with some great drawing hands. Then, off to bed we went.

Tourney time! 11am and the cards were in the air. I can say I always get that exciting feeling at the beginning of a big buy-in, knowing all to well that out of the 1250 runners in the room (I lost the over/under on that one), only one of us will walk away completely satisifed, although one's satisfaction can be felt in you will see shortly.

My initial table was a fairly skilled group. Three players were obviously grinders of some kind - two of them sported Tournament Poker Edge patches, and another was in Full Tilt garb, ahoodie and all. The rest of the table was pretty soft. I had a maniac to my right who miraculously survied a lot longer than I thought he would. the blinds began at 25-25 and escalated to 25-50, 50-75, 75-150 and 100-200 every 30 minutes. During this period I won in a few spots with small pots and took my 10K stack to about 14K by the first break. The blinds continued to climb after the first break and here is where I remember two pivotal hands that I enjoyed.

Both were against one of the pros...the first against Tournament Poker Edge guy who looked like the guy from EastBound and Down. I have AK and raise his 575 open to 1700. He calls. The flop comes 6J4 with two hearts and he checks. I make about a half pot bet of 3700, and he tanks for a while, but eventuslly folds. This put me at around 16K.

My best bluff of the day came against Full Tilt guy. Holding Jacks, I raise his 500 bet to 1500, and he calls. I decide before the flop that regardless of what hits the board, I am going to punch it. He had been making this bet a lot in late position and getting no opposition. If the texture of the board was right and he made any sort of passive move, I was going to ship it. Ace-rag-rag flopped and he checked. I insta-shoved all-in. He folds, telling me later that he had QQ. Nice.

Our table breaks and we move, and I've got about 14K. There really wasn't a whole lot to say about this table. One fella there remembered me from a bluff I put on him at the Borgata Winter Event two years ago(nice memory!). I donk off 4K from a continuation bet where I got shoved on with AQ. He had AJ with a jack on the board, so that was wnjoyable. I shove with Jacks again, and get an AJ call and I hold, so now I am close to 20K, but as always, the blinds catch up. With about 10 minutes to go nd the blinds at 400-800 with a 75 ante, I have dropped down to about 11K. With another orbit knocking me down soon I knew that I would be needing to do a quality shove before long, and best to do it when I still have more fold equity. I get my chance with AK. Two limp and I shove. 99 calls me and though the A hits the window, the river is a 9 and I make my exit. On the way I pass Jordan who is extremely short stacked, and tells me he won't be long - I tell him I'll wait in the room at Harrah's, where we had moved to that morning due to the cheap rate I snagged there.

At dinner break, Jordan arrives with Ross/Alceste, who had also been playing, and was also short. Jordan had rebounded to about 12K, but was facing yet another moment to shove. I reminded him that a chip and a chair is all you need, and sure enough, before long he texted to announce he was on a major rush, and had rebounded , and while I'll let him document his rush in detail, Jordan prevails from near elimination and makes it into the money, ending at 2am with 97 players left!

Today I accompanied Jordan to the ballroom, inquired about the ME Satellite, which had (groan) 12 signed up. Lemon! I thought about the 1:15 tourney downstairs but they only had 15 signed up. Lemon! So, I play 2-4 limit, the slowest and cheapest game in the room, and try to chase the bad beat jackpot while I wait for Jordan.

CONGRATULATORY PARAGRAPH- Jordan goes on a rush again and makes it to 24th for a payout of $2.5K! Congrats to HoP. I wish I had taken him up on the action swapping.

So, back to the levels of satisfaction - though I didn't cash, I felt like I played optimally, and even better than optimally in some cases. I made the best possible decisions when they were warranted, and don't feel at all bad about the experience. Could I have predicted that one of the limpers was going to put me to a coinflip with a pair? Sure. But I had to get it in, and AK is the best you can hope for when you're facing 10BB.

Again, congrats to Jordan, and be sure to stop by his blog (link above) and hear his story!